Exit 407 in Kodak, TN

What is happening at Interstate 40’s famous Exit 407?

Are we there yet? Interstate 40 spans the United States from North Carolina to California, and in East Tennessee, it intersects with Interstate 75 and 81. Additionally, Interstate 26 intersects in nearby North Carolina. These routes bring millions of annual visitors to the Smoky Mountains, making this section of the roadway the most traveled part of Interstate 40 in the entire country. The sign for exit 407, located in the community of Kodak, TN, sparks excitement because it means you’re almost to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg!

Kodak is more than just the gateway to the Smoky Mountains. It is home to the 4,500 residents who live there. Have you traveled through Kodak? If you use exit 407, you have, but you may not have realized you were in this peaceful community. It’s easy to assume that once you arrive at exit 407, you’re in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, or even Gatlinburg because these areas are fluid to many Smoky Mountain visitors. While each city is unique to the makeup of Sevier County’s tourism industry, some tourists visit attractions, restaurants, and shops in all three areas without realizing each is an independent city. The areas seem to flow together, creating one tourism destination. 

Gone are the days when the hometown of Kodak sat invisibly at the gateway to its sister cities. With so much development happening around the 407 interchange, travelers can no longer unknowingly pass through Kodak. It is joining the ranks of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg to become a major destination in the Smoky Mountains

Where is Kodak, TN?

Vintage photo of Kodak, Tennessee

Sitting at the northern tip of Sevier County, Kodak has been a quiet residential area for Sevier County’s booming tourism industry employees. The community was named Kodak in 1892 by the local postmaster after he learned of the new Kodak camera. He liked the name and sought approval from Kodak Eastman to use it. The camera company granted permission and since then, Kodak has remained relatively unknown.

In the 1990s, a local businessman opened the Great Smokies Flea Market in Kodak. This destination has been famously greeting motorists as they arrive at exit 407. It didn’t take long for a few motels and restaurants to follow suit. Then, the Tennessee Smokies Baseball Stadium debuted in 2000. The new millennium ushered in a wave of businesses near the 407 interchange including Bass Pro Shops and a handful of brand-name lodging establishments. 

To curb traffic backups, the interchange was overhauled in 2015 into the diverging diamond motorists use today. The unique concept has worked well to keep the flow of traffic moving in and out of Kodak. However, a completely new exit, 408, is being proposed to accommodate the new development happening at 407: Gateway to Adventure. 

What is 407: Gateway to Adventure?

Buc-ee's in Kodak, TN

Kodak, TN is becoming a delightful fusion of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. While Sevierville has a small hometown vibe, Pigeon Forge impresses with premier attractions and action-packed excitement. Visitors love Gatlinburg for its natural environment, nostalgia, historical aspects, and Smoky Mountain charm. With the established businesses and upcoming developments, visitors can find all these characteristics in Kodak! 

Phase 1 of 407: Gateway to Adventure includes Buc-ee’s Travel Center. The giant Texas-based business opened in the summer of 2023 and is easily visible from exit 407. Featuring 120 gas pumps, freshly smoked BBQ, and famously clean restrooms, the travel center is a destination within itself. 

Smoky Gap will be a 20-acre entertainment district offering a 1900s Americana Main Street vibe with attractions, dining, and shopping. Owned by Kituwah, LLC, a subsidiary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, this thematic destination will impress guests with storytelling, history, and seasonal components. This new site will appeal to all ages, making it an enjoyable attraction for the whole family. Additionally, the complex will offer late-night entertainment. 

A Cherokee history attraction by the European Theme Park Company, Puy du Fou, joins the phase 1 development. The immersive show will highlight Cherokee Natives’ contribution to the United States’ efforts in World War I, and it will be unlike any other in the world. 

To accommodate the many new guests staying overnight in Kodak, a new Courtyard by Marriott will open during phase 1. This hotel will join the Fairfield Inn & Suites, Comfort Suites, and other brand-name lodging properties in Kodak. With these phase 1 developments and forthcoming phase 2 and 3 additions, Kodak will soon rival its sister cities in attracting more overnight guests. 

What is there to do in Kodak now? 

The next decade in Kodak will be fascinating to witness, although there is so much to do there now. Bass Pro Shops is a major destination in Kodak. This well-known outdoor retailer neighbors The Chop House restaurant, Thunderhead Harley-Davidson, and Old Tennessee Distilling Company. This complex is across the road from Cracker Barrel, some big-name fast-food restaurants, and the Tennessee Smokies Stadium. 

The Tennessee Smokies Baseball Club will relocate back to Knoxville in 2025, leaving much speculation surrounding what will happen with the stadium in Kodak. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has shown interest although no announcements have been made regarding the future of this site. 

A local favorite, Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin, has called Kodak home for the last 20 years. This breakfast restaurant famously serves Southern favorites such as biscuits and gravy, local sausage, scratch-made pancakes, and other breakfast dishes. Across the highway, Russell Stover serves hand-dipped ice cream, fresh-made candies, and boxed confections. Visitors can even purchase a new vehicle or an RV from local dealerships in Kodak! 

Kodak is also home to KaTom Restaurant Supply and a new FedEx Ground Warehouse. Two manufacturing companies, Lisega and OTICS, are in Kodak. America’s Home Place, a custom home building company, sits directly at Exit 407 near Mountain Motorsports, a local motorsport dealer. These businesses make Kodak and surrounding communities desirable to people moving from out of state. Kodak is rich in jobs and residential neighborhoods.

Welcome to Kodak, TN!

Where else in the Smoky Mountains can you watch a baseball game and buy a motorcycle, a new vehicle, fishing gear, locally distilled spirits, hand-made chocolates, and beaver nuggets? Only in Kodak, TN! 

There’s no doubt that the Smoky Mountains are beloved by the millions of visitors that pour into Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville each year. Now, those visitors will have a new area to visit: Kodak, TN. 

Want to stay updated on business in Sevier County? At Kellum Creek Business Solutions, we help talented small business owners implement custom plans for success, turning work they love into profitable, purposeful brands. Take a look at our valued Sevier County clients. We love being a part of Sevier County’s tourism and business industry. Let’s keep in touch! Sign up for free business advice and news about local businesses in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg… and Kodak!

Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton